Special Correspondent: Timor-Leste hosted a public hearing to spotlight Myanmar’s human rights crisis, where defenders detailed atrocities by the military junta and called for increased international support and action.

The Provedor for Human Rights and Justice (PDHJ) of Timor-Leste took a significant step forward in international advocacy by hosting the ‘Public Hearing on the Human Rights Crisis in Myanmar‘ on Monday (27 May).

This event underscored the dire human rights and humanitarian conditions in Myanmar, offering a platform for the affected to voice their grievances and seek global support.

PDHJ Chief Ombudsman Virgilio da Silva Guterres and Deputy Ombudsman Maria Marilia X. C. de O. da Costa presided over the public hearing. It also saw participation from Hugo Fernandes, CEO of Centro Nacional Chega (CNC), reflecting a united front in Timor-Leste’s commitment to human rights.

Seven human rights defenders (HRDs) from Myanmar, representing various states and ethnic backgrounds, testified about the brutal crackdowns by the military junta. Their testimonies detailed the human rights violations committed by the junta, which has killed more than 5,000 people and arbitrarily detained more than 26,000 political prisoners, including women and children.

These violations also include the imposition of the death penalty, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, abduction, torture, harassment, sexual violence, airstrikes, and the junta’s blockage of humanitarian aid to over 2.7 million internally displaced persons. The HRDs testified how they—alongside colleagues—are being targeted by the junta for their human rights work and participation in peaceful demonstrations. Such violations have been exacerbated by the junta’s forced conscription, which is driving tens of thousands of youth to either flee the country or be forced against their will to serve the military.

The defenders called for increased international solidarity and action. They emphasized the need for urgent humanitarian aid and more robust actions against the junta, thanking Timor-Leste for its unwavering support and solidarity with Myanmar’s struggle for democracy.

In his remarks, Chief Ombudsman da Silva Guterres outlined Timor-Leste’s role as the Southeast Asia National Human Rights Institution Forum (SEANF) chair. He stressed the need for a proactive approach in engaging ASEAN members to address the ongoing crisis despite the relative silence of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).

The hearing was supported by various human rights organizations, including CNC, Progressive Voice, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma), and Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID). This collective effort highlighted the regional commitment to human rights and the importance of international cooperation in addressing crises like that in Myanmar.

The event concluded with a reaffirmation of Timor-Leste’s commitment to supporting Myanmar’s fight for justice and democracy, emphasizing the historical and moral responsibility to aid those in the global struggle for human rights.


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